Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New yeast prion helps cells survive

Date:
April 23, 2012
Source:
RIKEN
Summary:
One of the greatest mysterious in cellular biology has been given a new twist. Researchers now show that prions, proteins that transmit heritable information without DNA or RNA, can contribute to drug resistance and cellular adaptation. Their discovery of a yeast prion with these properties demonstrates the active role of the prion conversion in cellular fitness adaptation, providing new insights into the potentially broader function of prions in living organisms.

[MOD+] yeast contain Mod5 aggregates (upper) and acquire resistance to an antifungal agent, fluconazole (lower).
Credit: Image courtesy of RIKEN

One of the greatest mysterious in cellular biology has been given a new twist thanks to findings reported in Science. Researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute show that prions, proteins that transmit heritable information without DNA or RNA, can contribute to drug resistance and cellular adaptation. Their discovery of a yeast prion with these properties demonstrates the active role of the prion conversion in cellular fitness adaptation, providing new insights into the potentially broader function of prions in living organisms.

Related Articles


Since their discovery in the 1960s, the class of misfolded proteins known as prions has posed a fundamental challenge to the foundation of molecular biology: the idea that heritable information flows from DNA and RNA to protein, but never from protein to any other molecule. Contrary to this rule, prions are able to transmit information from one molecule to another through the transmission of their misfolded shape, with devastating consequences in diseases such as mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The broader implications of this unusual transmission mechanism, however, are not well understood.

Among these implications, research on yeast prions has suggested that beyond their well-known role in diseases, some prions may confer survival advantages by helping organisms respond to environmental stress. To explore this idea, the BSI research team screened a wide range of different genes in budding yeast for previously-undiscovered prions. Out of 6000 genes screened, they found a new yeast prion protein "Mod5" with the unusual property that it lacks the glutamine and asparagine-rich amino acid sequences characteristic of other yeast prions. Sequences like these are thought to contribute to forming amyloid aggregates, the mechanism by which prions propagate.

Despite lacking these sequences, Mod5 forms amyloid aggregates just like other yeast prions. Unlike the destructive role such aggregates play in well-known prion diseases, however, the researchers showed that Mod5 aggregates actually help the yeast, by granting it cellular resistance to antifungal agents. This advantage is so important that the yeast actually increases prion conversion when the pressure is on, as the researchers found when they applied antifungal drugs to the yeast.

These results demonstrate that the Mod5 yeast prion contributes to cell survival under environmental stress, through selection playing a key role in evolutionary adaptation. This insight marks a breakthrough in our understanding of the evolutionary role of prions and their unique form of inheritance, promising new avenues in the battle to contain and treat some of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by RIKEN. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. Suzuki, N. Shimazu, M. Tanaka. A Yeast Prion, Mod5, Promotes Acquired Drug Resistance and Cell Survival Under Environmental Stress. Science, 2012; 336 (6079): 355 DOI: 10.1126/science.1219491

Cite This Page:

RIKEN. "New yeast prion helps cells survive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423105000.htm>.
RIKEN. (2012, April 23). New yeast prion helps cells survive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423105000.htm
RIKEN. "New yeast prion helps cells survive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423105000.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

Ebola Inflicts Heavy Toll on Guinean Potato Trade

AFP (Oct. 30, 2014) The Ebola epidemic has seen Senegal and Guinea Bissau close its borders with Guinea and the economic consequences have started to be felt, especially in Fouta Djallon, where the renowned potato industry has been hit hard. Duration: 02:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Genetically Altered Glowing Flower on Display in Tokyo

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 30, 2014) Just in time for Halloween, a glowing flower goes on display in Tokyo. Instead of sorcery and magic, its creators used science to genetically modify the flower, adding a naturally fluorescent plankton protein to its genetic mix. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins